Judge declines to dismiss charges against Colorado Springs protesters

0 View Comments A Colorado Springs judge has refused to dismiss charges against four people arrested during a downtown protest last spring, rejecting their attorney's argument that undercover police officers had wrongfully infiltrated their local political group. Eric Verlo, 56, Nazli McDonnell, 55, Taylor Donner, 24, and Andrew Hunt, 23 - all members of a socialist discussion group chartered by the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs - were arrested on suspicion of violating two city ordinances after police say they blocked traffic and refused to move from the street when ordered to the sidewalk at the March 26 event. Prominent civil rights lawyer David Lane, an attorney for two of the defendants, filed a motion to dismiss the charges against all four in September after they learned through a public records request that at least one undercover law enforcement officer had infiltrated the group months before the demonstration. Related: Judge: City must make it easier to protest at Denver International Airport Lane argued that police engaged in "outrageous conduct," broke a federal rule when they infiltrated a "completely peaceful" political group with no criminal history and violated the protesters' constitutional rights to free speech and due process by arresting them - all arguments that were rejected by Judge Kristen Hoffecker in her Dec. 21 ruling. Police officials testified at an evidentiary hearing early this month that officers began monitoring local political groups after violence erupted at demonstrations elsewhere in the country following the inauguration of President Donald Trump, Gazette news partner KKTV reported. The case raises questions about whether police surveillance is necessary to protect public safety at a time when Trump's presidency has incited waves of political activism across the nation - a dilemma for law enforcement agencies that has spawned fears among activist groups who believe their free speech rights may be at risk. Continue Reading

After a strong 2017, where is the Colorado Springs economy headed in 2018?

0 View Comments The economic picture in the Colorado Springs area was a bright one in 2017, with unemployment falling below 3 percent and home sales and homebuilding still on a roll. Will the good times continue in 2018? Barring an unexpected national downturn or a geopolitical issue rattling the economy, "I think 2018 looks really quite strong," says Tatiana Bailey, director of the UCCS Economic Forum. "We're in such a good position because before, Colorado Springs would be happy to be on the coattails of what was going well nationally. Now we seem to be a little bit better than what occurs in the nation." Related: Better times ahead in 2018 for Colorado Springs' commercial market, forecast says Tom Binnings, a senior partner in Colorado Springs economic research and consulting firm Summit Economics, expects the economy to "cool down slightly" in 2018. He cites labor shortages, rising interest rates and a possible correction in a surging stock market as issues. Here's a look at various areas of the economy as the new year beckons. Employment Colorado is expected to add 47,100 jobs in 2018, or 1.8 percent growth, according to the Colorado Business Economic Outlook 2018 released by the University of Colorado at Boulder's Leeds School of Business. That's slower than the last couple of years but still in the top 10 nationally. The unemployment rate for the Colorado Springs area in October rose to 3.2 percent - its highest level since February - while payroll growth slowed to a five-year low. Still, the local jobless rate in October was nearly a full percentage point below the national rate of 4.1 percent. Bailey, pointing to other indicators such as job postings, remains "pretty bullish" about the employment picture, at least for the first half of 2018. She expects the jobless rate during that time "to stay at or below the natural rate of unemployment." But she warns job growth will be constrained by the lack of qualified labor in areas from homebuilding to Continue Reading

Colorado Springs area wellness events starting June 7, 2016

0 View Comments HEALTH NOTES Health Notes appears on a space-available basis, free for nonprofits. Listings appear at the discretion of The Gazette. Send information at least two weeks in advance: Email [email protected] or fax 636-0202. Bonfils community blood drive - Appointments required: 1-800-365-0006, ext. 2, bonfils.org. - 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Sand Creek Library Branch, 1821 S. Academy Blvd., and Fort Carson Post Exchange, 6110 Picket St., Fort Carson. - 1-2:40 p.m. and 4-6:30 p.m. June 17, 2490 Research Parkway. - 11 a.m.-3p.m. June 18, Ruth Holley Library Branch, 685 N. Murray Blvd. - 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m. June 20, Memorial Hospital Administrative Center, 2420 E. Pikes Peak Ave.Celebration and Fashion Show - To benefit victims of sex trafficking, domestic violence and women struggling with drug addiction, noon-6 p.m. June 26, City Auditorium, 221 E. Kiowa St., $20 in advance, $25 at door; Claudine or Priscilla 473-5101, [email protected] for Courage, Stair Climb Race and Family Festival - To benefit Children's Hospital Colorado, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. June 25, Falcon Stadium, Air Force Academy, 5900 Stadium Blvd., $20-$35, free for family festival. Registration: tinyurl.com/z6q7rp8.Colorado Springs Senior Center - 1514 N. Hancock Ave. Registration: 955-3400, csseniorcenter.com. - Planning for Long-Term Care, 10-11:30 a.m. Wednesday, $1. - The Basic of Alzheimer's, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday, $1. - Understanding and Responding to Dementia - Related Behaviors, 10 a.m.-noon June 14, $1. - Nurse Chats - Headaches, 10-11 a.m. June 15, $1. - Medicare Education, 6-7 p.m. June 16, $1. - Food and Drug Interactions, 10-11 a.m. June 17, $1. - Healthy Living for Your Brain and Body, 10-11:30 a.m. June 21, $1. - Touch Therapy, 1-2:30 p.m. June 22, $1. - How to Live a Fulfilling Life in Long Term and Memory Care, 10-11 a.m. June 23, $1.Golf Tournament - 2 p.m. Friday, to benefit Realm of Caring, Eisenhower Continue Reading

Colorado Springs Philharmonic’s 2017-18 season has arrived, with phenomenal events every month

0 View Comments The Colorado Springs Philharmonic has been enriching the community since 1927. The professional orchestra is composed of more than 70 musicians, and led by Music Director Josep Caballé-Domenech. Over the course of each concert season, the orchestra performs approximately 40 awe-inspiring concerts that audience members describe as “joyful,” “sensational,” and “emotionally moving.” Every attendee has a special and unique experience, as a powerful and personal bond is established between the individual and the music. The Colorado Springs Philharmonic’s concerts are broken down into three series. The first is El Pomar Foundation Masterworks series, which is filled with works created by the biggest names in music composition and classical music repertoire. The second is Philharmonic Pops, featuring symphonic interpretations of the 20th century’s favorite icons within pop culture. Finally, there is the Al and Leigh Buettner Vanguard Performance series, which is a unique format of concerts offering an in-depth, multimedia, narrative and musical performance giving audiences the opportunity to learn more about select topics. The 2017-18 concert season kicks off this weekend and locals are getting excited for some of this year’s incredible performances. One highlight of this year – within the Masterworks series – is Lise de la Salle Plays Chopin from September 16 to 17, 2017. This extraordinary violinist from France will be playing Chopin’s Concerto No. 2. Mr. Adventure and West Side Story are two of the highly-anticipated events in this year’s Philharmonic Pop series. Mr. Adventure, from October 27 to 28, 2017, is a thrilling tour of action-packed film music from John Williams; known for his scores in Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Home Alone and much more! West Side Story, from March 2 to 3, will present the Continue Reading

Colorado Springs-area events calendar: Friday, Dec. 29

0 View Comments Here's a look at what's going on Friday in the Colorado Springs area: WINTER FUN GUIDE Through Dec. 29: “Christmas Along the Avenue” — Arati Artist Gallery, 2425 W. Colorado Ave.; ara-tiartists.com. Through Dec. 31: Christmas in Magic Town — Miniature city transformed into a winter wonderland, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Tuesdays and Thursdays-Sundays, Michael Garman Museum and Gallery, 2418 W. Colorado Ave., $3-$5. Advance tickets: tinyurl.com/yanthqlh.Holiday Miniatures Show — Abend Gallery, 1412 Wazee St., Denver; abendgallery.com. Related: Saturday events around Colorado Springs Through Dec. 31: “The Holiday 100” — Artists will have $100 paintings for sale, Tracy Miller Gallery, 16 Ruxton Ave., Manitou Springs; 650-0827, [email protected] Through Dec. 31: Christmas Light Helicopter Tours — Colorado Vertical, 1587 Aviation Way, $59 and up. Reservations: coloradovertical.com.Blossoms of Light — Holiday lights extravaganza, 5-9 p.m., Denver Botanic Gardens, 1007 York St., Denver. Go online for admission prices. Advance tickets: tinyurl.com/ybqlputy. Skate in the Park — Acacia Park, 115 E. Platte Ave., $10 per skater, including skate rental, free for children 4 and younger with paid admission. Go online for times; downtowncs.com/skate. Through Jan. 1: Electric Safari — 5:30-8:30 p.m., with last admission sold at 7:30 p.m., Thursday-Saturday and Dec. 25-Jan. 1, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, 4250 Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Road, go online for ticket prices: cmzoo.org/electricsafari. MUSIC Umphrey’s McGee — 8 p.m., Fillmore Auditorium, Denver, $39.50 and up; TM.My Morning Jacket — with The Revolution on Friday, Tune-Yards on Saturday, Karl Denson’s tiny Universe on Sunday, 8 p.m., 1stBank Center, Broomfield, $50.95 and up; AT.BoomBox — 9 p.m., Gothic Theatre, Englewood, $20 and up; AX.Nahko and Medicine for the People — With Dustin Thomas, 9 Continue Reading

Colorado Springs Movers & Shakers: Elissa Salama

0 View Comments Elissa Salama has joined Colorado Springs Food Rescue as communications and development manager. She has spent the last six years working for several hunger relief organizations in Denver, including GrowHaus, ReVision and Groundwork Denver in roles ranging from volunteer to project supervisor and coordinator of educational programming. She studied religion and sociology at University of Florida and is a student at Regis University in its master's degree in nonprofit management program. Continue Reading

Colorado Springs fire marshals says firefighters ‘fished’ Donald Trump out of stuck elevator before July rally

The Secret Service may have bungled Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s elevator ride before a July rally in Colorado, according to emails obtained in local reports. A “Civilian of the Year” fire marshal shamed by the GOP nominee for not packing more people into his July 29 rally detailed what really happened during the “elevator fiasco” when Trump found himself stuck for about 15 minutes inside a Mining Exchange Hotel lift. “It was funny,” Brett Lacey told a friend the following Mondayin an email obtained by KMGH-TV. “Turns out someone (Secret Service or his entourage) had an elevator bypass key.” The mysterious keymaster then flipped the switched, powering down the elevator and stranding 10 of its passengers — including the New York billionaire — between the first and second floor before the campaign event, Lacey wrote. “Our folks went and fished them out,” he added. “Elevator guys get there and say ‘What the crap? Who turned this off?’ Turned it back on a voila.” CNN reports firefighters lowered a ladder into the elevator for the blowhard candidate and his staff to climb. Despite the brief mishap, the Denver television station states Trump was an hour late to a rally at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. The rally in Colorado Springs is also where Trump lambasted Lacey for limiting the number of people that could attend — despite his embarrassing rescue by firefighters moments before. “We have in the room next door over a thousand people they won’t let them in and the reason they won’t let them in is because they don’t know what they’re doing.” Trump then labeled Lacey as a Hillary Clinton supporter. “What a disgraceful situation,” Trump added for good measure. KMGH-TV also learned that the fire Continue Reading

Garrett Swasey, cop killed in Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooting and dad of two, was once an Olympic ice dancing hopeful

Officer Garrett Swasey, before becoming a Colorado cop, church pastor and devoted dad, chased a dream of Olympic gold. The 44-year-old shot to death Friday during a five-hour standoff at a Planned Parenthood clinic was an acclaimed ice dancer once touted as a 1994 Winter Games hopeful. “I’d known him since he was 20 years old,” said Jo Ann Schneider Farris, an old friend of Swasey from the skating world. “I couldn’t sleep when I heard about his death. RANTINGS FROM COLORADO PLANNED PARENTHOOD SHOOTING SUSPECT ROBERT LEWIS DEAR PROVIDE GLIMPSE OF POSSIBLE MOTIVE “He was the kind of person who always, when somebody needed something, he was there. I can picture him dropping whatever he was doing and getting to the crime scene.” Two unidentified civilians were killed along with Swasey, and the shooter wounded another nine victims before surrendering to police in the nation’s latest mass shooting. “This is not normal,” President Obama said about the gun violence. “We can’t let it become normal. If we truly care about this ... then we have to do something about the easy accessibility of weapons of war on our streets to people who have no business wielding them. BOB LEFSETZ: GOP RAGES ABOUT ISIS, BUT HELPS CREATE TERROR “Enough is enough.” Planned Parenthood confirmed that none of its workers were among the dead or wounded. Authorities said the two other murder victims would be identified once autopsies were completed — perhaps not until Monday. Swasey, who was paired for several years with partner Christine Fowler Binder, trained with well-known coach Sandy Hess — and even won a national championship while in the junior ranks. “Very few people come along in your life where when you remember them 20 years later, the first thing you do is smile before you Continue Reading

Three dead, including cop, after gunman opens fire at Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs; 9 more wounded, shooter in custody: police

A grueling five-hour standoff between Colorado police and a gunman holed up in a Planned Parenthood clinic ended with a police officer and two others dead, nine more wounded and the shooter in custody, police said Friday. The slain officer was identified as Garrett Swasey, 44, a six-year veteran with the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. The names of the two civilians killed in the Colorado Springs shootout weren’t released as of late Friday night, while a law enforcement official identified the gunman as Robert Lewis Dear of North Carolina. Dear, 59, also has a Colorado address. Swasey, the fallen officer, was married with two children, and he was active in the Hope Chapel Church, according to the church’s website. Police Officer Garrett Swasey, 44, was killed in a standoff with a gunman at a Planned parenthood in Colorado.  Garret Swasey pictured (r.) with his wife Rachel and children Elijah and Faith. DEBUNKED PLANNED PARENTHOOD VIDEOS LED TO ATTACK: ACTIVISTS The nine other wounded victims, including five police officers, were in good condition Friday night, police said. The chaos began at about 11:40 a.m. with a report of shots fired around the Planned Parenthood clinic, sending scores of people in nearby stores scampering for safety. And it ended just before 5 p.m. when the unnamed suspect was apprehended inside the facility — after several hours of trading bullets with cops. Ozy Licano, 61, a retired musician, saw the moment the shooter entered the clinic, he told the Daily News. The gunman was “seriously armed,” Licano said. At the end of the siege, authorities led the handcuffed suspect, a bearded white man, outside as a light snow fell. WITNESS AT COLORADO PLANNED PARENTHOOD RECOUNTS MOMENTS OF TERROR Cops said he used a “long gun” during his rampage. With the gunman’s motive Continue Reading

Anti-abortion videos inspired recent spike in threats, arson against Planned Parenthood and may have led to fatal shooting in Colorado Springs: pro-choice activists

A series of videos attempting to discredit Planned Parenthood ignited a wave of threats, arson and protests against the medical clinics and culminated in a deadly shooting in Colorado, pro-choice activists believe. The two manipulated videos released by the Center for Medical Progress, which show what appears to be Denver Planned Parenthood employees discussing reimbursement for harvesting fetal tissue, increased threats against clinics that both offer abortions and those that do not. BOB LEFSETZ: GOP RAGES ABOUT ISIS, BUT HELPS CREATE TERROR The covert videos captured by undercover pro-life activists accused Planned Parenthood of profiting from abortions. The group stopped accepting reimbursement funds for fetal tissue as a result. “There has been a direct correlation in the release of these videos and these threats,” National Abortion Federation president Vicki Saporta told the Daily News hours after a deadly attack killed two civilians and a police officer at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs. THREE DEAD, INCLUDING COP, AFTER GUNMAN OPENS FIRE AT PLANNED PARENTHOOD Threats have targeted the Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains network, which includes the Colorado Springs clinic. The national advocacy group has catalogued a “gamut” of threats sent to its network of medical clinics in the form of social media posts, phone calls, letters and emails — some calling for vandals to raze Planned Parenthood facilities. The log was handed over to law enforcement. Clinics in Pullman, Wash., Aurora, Ill., New Orleans and Thousand Oaks, Calif., were the target of arsonists this year, but no arrests have been made. The attack in Colorado Springs took the biggest toll in recent years with three fatalities. “We were hoping to prevent it,” Saporta said. “They have been targeted by these anti-abortion extremists and Continue Reading